Thoughts on Inclusive Democracy?

Hi all, long-time lurker here but this is my first post.

I consider myself to be broadly a libertarian socialist above anything else, and any other labels beyond that to be secondary. I find the Parecon model incredibly interesting and one of the most compelling I’ve seen, but I’m curious what everyone here thinks of Inclusive Democracy as envisioned by Takis Fotopoulos.

It shares a lot in common with Parecon, in that it focuses on things like democracy, self-management, and an opposition to hierarchical structures. It also helps formalize and expand on some of the areas Parecon is more silent on, such as how the general political organization of society beyond economic affairs should work. It proposes to do this according to a system of directly democratic assemblies in each community that are in turn united together into a confederation which is bound by instructions from the assemblies to only serve functions of coordinating and administering assembly decisions. These assemblies would be the supreme decision-making bodies of society (while workers’ councils would still exist in each workplace, they would be subordinate to the community assemblies to secure ownership of the economy by society at large).

Many parts of the ID model could easily work within or alongside a Parecon model, such as Parecon’s remuneration according to effort and sacrifice and ID’s remuneration (at least in part) according to the perceived desirability of each job (based on the number of people choosing to work them versus the number of people needed to meet the demand for that work). Choosing to work in a more understaffed or undesirable job could easily be considered to be a greater sacrifice for the purposes of Parecon’s remuneration. Additionally, ID proposes to have a system of democratic planning for making macroeconomic decisions and for meeting the basic needs of all citizens that could be adapted to use the participatory planning system (though there is a point of disagreement in that, again, under ID the community assemblies are the supreme decision-making body rather than being consumers’ councils co-equal to workers’ councils as with Parecon).

However, the most major point of contention between the two models is that rather than use a democratic planning process to allocate non-basic goods and services, ID proposes to use what it calls an “artificial market,” where socially-owned enterprises produce goods and services that are in turn sold at prices using socially-issued vouchers (similar to Parecon’s credits) but according to an ever-changing balance of supply and demand rather than an institutionalized planning process. Fotopoulos gives an example of the kinds of “market” calculation:

If, for instance, the confederal assembly has ruled that a mobile phone is not a basic good, then the ‘price’ of a mobile phone can be found by dividing the number of NBVs [Non-Basic Vouchers] used over the past 12 months for the ‘purchase’ of mobile phones (say 100,000) over the total number of mobile phones produced in the same period (say 1,000) giving us a ‘price’ per mobile phone of 100 NBVs.

While relatively unplanned compared to Parecon, the ID artificial market avoids many of the shortfalls of capitalist markets in that basic needs like housing and healthcare aren’t left up to the whims of the market, society retains sovereignty over the direction the economy goes through the assemblies’ ownership of enterprises and resources, and the fact that by using individualized vouchers/credits that don’t circulate there is no longer an incentive to radically mark up prices to maximize profit or induce artificial scarcity.

I also don’t feel that this system is as at-odds with Parecon as it might appear at first glance, as it’s made very clear that even under Parecon prices would change between planning cycles according to revealed supply and demand over the course of the year. ID just more strongly formalizes these periodic changes into an institutional artificial market.

Like I said, I see the merits of both Inclusive Democracy and Parecon and I think that both models provide a feasible and desirable outline for a world after capitalism, and I feel that despite their differences both models have a great degree of overlap and could be synthesized in some way to help meet each others’ shortfalls. But I’m curious to see what you all think.


I searched the artificial market on Wikipedia, but what was pushed to me was the introduction of its supporters, but not the introduction of the artificial market itself. Besides, I also saw the description of “participatory economy can coexist with artificial market” on the page of participatory economy on Wikipedia. Could you explain the definition of artificial market?